Bonding is the term used to describe a cosmetic dental procedure that is used to repair chipped, decayed, broken or discolored teeth. Bonding should not be confused with veneers which are also bonded to the teeth but involves a different process, uses different methods and is used for different purposes. A veneer is custom made for a patient in a laboratory and fitting one typically requires multiple visits to the dentist. Bonding can be done in one visit.
Bonding is among the simplest and quickest of dental procedures. A composite resin (a plastic-like material) is applied to the affected teeth and shaped on the spot to fill or cover the defect. It can be polished to match the color of the surrounding teeth. Besides treating damaged and discolored teeth, bonding is also used to fill in unwanted gaps between teeth and to change the shape and size of misshapen teeth so that they are uniform with the others.
Normally, no preparation is needed for bonding and anesthesia is not required. The patient comes in, the process is completed and the patient leaves with no further action or treatment required. The first step is to choose the resin color so that it matches the color of the other teeth. Next, the tooth to be treated will be abraded slightly to make it's surface rough to allow for better bonding. A conditioning liquid is applied to the tooth surface to enhance the bond strength. The resin is then applied and shaped and a laser light is used to harden it. Once it is hard, a final shaping and polishing will be done after which the procedure is completed.